Mayfield Park – Peacocks and Hiking Trails in Central Austin Texas

Mayfield Park is an absolute gem. This Central Austin park includes a 27 acre nature preserve, 2 acres of beautiful gardens, an historic cottage, water-lily ponds, and peacocks greet you at the entrance! Mayfield is one of my favorite free things to do in Austin.

Certainly there are plenty of beautiful Austin parks to visit, but Mayfield is the only one with peacocks roaming the park grounds. While people love to visit Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin let’s face it, if you want to avoid the crowds you need to get away from downtown.

 

Blue peacock pecking for food in the gardens of Mayfield Park

Blue peacock pecking for food in the gardens of Mayfield Park

 

Peacocks adorn the stone all at Mayfield Park in Austin

Peacocks of Austin adorn the stone wall at Mayfield Park and Preserve

 

Peacock Park Austin, as it is informally known, is close to downtown. The official name of the peacock park is Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve. Either name it makes for some free fun in Austin that you won’t find anywhere else in town.

 

Peacock with brilliant plumage greets visitors to Mayfield Park in Central Austin

Peacock with brilliant plumage greets visitors to Mayfield Park in Austin Texas

 

History of the park

Mr. Allison Mayfield, former Texas Secretary of State, purchased the property in 1909 as a summer retreat for his family. Later the Mayfield’s daughter Mary Frances married Milton Gutsch and they moved into the home in 1922.

After Milton Gutsch died in 1967 and Mary Mayfield Gutsch died in 1971, she gifted the property to the City of Austin to be used as a park.

Certainly Mayfield Park is a beautiful gift to the city of Austin and all who visit the park.

 

Mayfield cottage and park - peacocks - hiking trails in Austin TX

Mayfield cottage adorned with peacocks

 

Why are there peacocks at Mayfield Park?

Originally only two peafowl lived at Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve. Now all of the peacocks you see are descendants of the original pair of peafowl given as a Christmas gift to the Mayfield’s in 1935.

In the springtime visitors to Mayfield Park will see the peacocks fanning their tail feathers. So you’ll see the males strut their stuff and display their eye-catching plumage in the hopes of attracting the females.

 

Peacock at the arch in Mayfield Park in Austin TX

Peacock at the arch in Mayfield Park

 

If you have kids take them to the peacock park! Children (and adults who are still kids, like me) love watching these exotic birds display their beautiful feathers.

 

While visiting Mayfield Park this blue peacock walked up to my camera

This blue peacock walked up to my camera for a closer look

 

The female peafowls are less flamboyant than the males. Both peacocks and peahens can fly short distances and are often rest in the trees or on top of the cottage at Mayfield Park. If you don’t see any peacocks when you go the park look up on the roof and watch for them in the trees.

 

Peacocks resting in the trees at Mayfield Park in Austin Texas

Interestingly the peacocks enjoy hanging out in the big live oak trees at the park

 

Best time to see peacock tail feathers

Although peacocks lose their tail feather in the summer months, you can enjoy the gorgeous plumage during the springtime. For the best chance to see the peacocks displaying their exotic tail feathers at Mayfield Park visit from February through June.

Although in winter they still do look rather fancy, even without their full tail feather plumage.

 

Blue peacock showing off his tail feathers at Mayfield Park and Preserve

Blue peacock showing off his tail feathers at Mayfield Preserve

 

 

Rear view of peacock winter plumage tail feathers

Rear view of peacock winter plumage tail feathers

 

Because the peacocks at Mayfield were hatched and raised at the park, they are tame and used to people wandering around. The baby peacocks are not born with their tail feathers and they don’t start growing tail feather until around three years old.

 

Exotic and beautiful peacock plumage attracts the females

Exotic and beautiful peacock plumage

 

Each year the peacocks train of feathers will increase in size and number of feathers along with the eye of the feather becoming larger.

 

Peacocks fan their tails in springtime - Mayfield Park Austin TX

Peacocks fan their tails in springtime to attract the peahens

 

What is that sound peacocks make?

As if the extravagant tail feather display weren’t enough to draw admirers from the female population, the peacocks also have a loud mating call. Apparently peahens are easily distracted or have a sort of attention deficit problem.

 

A couple of peahens at Mayfield, the female peafowl, without fancy tail feathers

A couple of peahens at Mayfield, the female peafowl, without fancy tail feathers

 

Anyhow they need more than fancy feathers to keep their attention on one handsome male. Hang around Austin peacock park during mating season and you will hear the males calling a loud ‘hoot’ to attract the females.

 

Peacock tail feather plumage Mayfield Park in Austin TX

Peacock plumage looking much like a gorgeous gown

 

The peacocks wander all around the entire grounds of Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve. During mating season the peacocks can be heard from blocks away when they let out a loud hoot to attract the females.

Apparently many of the calls are ‘fake sex sounds’ according to scientists and reported in this article from Independent in the UK.

Imagine that, peacocks are faking it to attract a mate. Poor desperate fellas!

 

 

Rear view of peacock displaying his winter plumage, trying to attract the peahens

Rear view of peacock displaying his winter plumage, trying to attract the peahens

 

Mayfield Park hiking trails

Mayfield Park is open to the public daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. Occasionally the grounds may be rented out for private events such as weddings so check out the hiking trails instead.

The hiking trails at Mayfield are well marked with signage. Have a look at the board with the map of all the hikes at the park. As far as Austin hiking trails go, Mayfield’s are easy and usually not crowded. Although sometimes the parking lot in Mayfield does get full, there is usually room for overflow parking on the road.

 

Map of hiking trails at Mayfield Park and Preserve in Austin Texas

Map of hiking trails at Mayfield Park and Preserve in Austin Texas

 

Because Austin experiences mild winters you can enjoy hiking at Mayfield in the cooler months.

 

Solo hiker Susan Moore at Mayfield hiking trail in December

Solo hiker Susan Moore at Mayfield hiking trail in December

 

During spring and summer the foliage helps shade you from the hot Austin sunshine. You’ll find much of the trail system at Mayfield is well shaded the warmer months.

 

In summer Mayfield Park nature trails have plenty of shade coverage

In summer Mayfield Park nature trails have plenty of shade coverage

 

Gardens and lily ponds

The garden area is often rented out for weddings and other social events with the peacocks making for terrific photo opportunities. Zilker Botanical Garden is another top pick for outdoor weddings and marriage proposals in Austin.

 

Peacock under the arch on the grounds of Mayfield Park in Austin TX

Peacock at the arch on the grounds of Mayfield Park

 

Another thing I love about Mayfield Park and Preserve is the effort put into restoring the native landscape of the park. For example, they actively remove invasive plants from the park. As a result there is more sunlight filtering through to the ground and allowing seedlings the sunshine the need to grow and mature.

 

Info board about Mayfield Park's efforts to restore native landscape at the park

Info board about Mayfield Park’s efforts to restore native landscape at the park

 

Because volunteers tend the gardens of Mayfield Park you’ll notice signs with their names in the garden plots.

The peafowl have free rein around the park. It is not unusual to see peacocks and peahens in the gardens or resting in the tree branches around the cottage.

 

Columbine flower blooming in springtime - Mayfield Park in Austin Texas

Columbine flower blooming in springtime in Austin

 

Mayfield Park is a common destination for families during the daytime and in the evenings it is a popular and romantic date-night location.

 

Popular with young families - Mayfield Park is open daily

Young family visiting Mayfield Park

 

Peacock park Austin Texas Mayfield Park and Preserve features exotic peafowl

 

In summary, if you are looking for one of the best free things to do in Austin outdoors, Mayfield Park should be at the top of your list.

 


Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve visitor info

Address

3305 W 35th St, Austin Texas

Phone Number

+1(512)-974-6700

Hours

5 am – 10 pm daily

Admission Fee

Free

Parking

Free parking at premises

Bus to Mayfield Park

From downtown Austin take bus#992 and transfer to bus #335 at 35th Street


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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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